Stephen M. Smith Lab Page - Techniques
Methodological approaches to our research
We employ a combination of electrophysiological and imaging techniques to study synaptic physiology. These include electrophysiology from single nerve terminals.
Ca2+ entry is a critical signal at the synapse where it triggers exocytosis, plasticity, and gene expression. Comparatively little is known about the impact of the corresponding decreases in extracellular Ca2+. Using patch-clamp techniques, we have shown that falls in extracellular Ca2+ activate a non-selective cation channel in isolated neocortical nerve terminals. The picture shows a recording from an isolated nerve terminal viewed from the light microscope. The background illustrates the fluorescence image following loading of the nerve terminals with FM 1-43. These nerve terminals have intact vesicle turnover and can be used to study ion channel function at small nerve terminals.
Synaptic transmission between pairs of cortical neurons can be assessed by patch clamping adjacent neurons as shown in this photomicrograph. This approach will supplement the data obtained with single cell recordings, such as the spontaneously occurring excitatory post synaptic currents shown below.
A postdoctoral fellow position is available in the Smith Lab at Oregon Health & Science University. The applicant should have experience in patch-clamp electrophysiology and/or Ca2+ imaging. The lab is pursuing research projects investigating the function of small nerve terminals from cerebral cortex and brainstem. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms that facilitate high rates of synaptic transmission and the effects of changes in the extracellular microenvironment on synaptic transmission. We are currently addressing these questions by using electrophysiological techniques to record from single neocortical nerve terminals and from connected pairs of neocortical neurons. This physiological approach is being supplemented by pharmacological and immunochemical techniques. Please inquire .
These pages last updated 02-23-2004